Historical movies about famous Black people often focus on stories of bravery in the face of oppression. The top historical Black movies are based on civil rights leaders, sports stars, and legendary musicians. This is a list of true Black movies featuring everything from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom to 12 Years a Slave to Malcolm X.
What movies will you find on this list of the best historical Black films? History buffs might place Glory near the top. Based on the Civil War experiences of one of the first military units of the Union Army to be comprised entirely of African-American men, this great film went on to win three Academy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actor trophy for Denzel Washington. Ali, starring Will Smith, is another good Black movie based on true events. Selma took an in-depth look at Martin Luther King's iconic march from Selma to Montgomery to fight for equal voting rights for African Americans. Other good movies featured on this best historical Black films list include biography films like The Hurricane and The Last King of Scotland, not to mention a great deal of top African American biopics.
Do you have a favorite historical Black movie? Give the best films a vote up and please down any that you think other fans can skip. When you're done, be sure to check out our list of movies about discrimination.
- Legendary soul musician Ray Charles is portrayed by Jamie Foxx in this Oscar-winning biopic. Young Ray watches his 7-year-old brother drown at age seven. When he loses his sight at the age of 9, his ...more
- Respect is a 2021 American biographical film directed by Liesl Tommy. It follows the life and legacy of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (Jennifer Hudson).
- An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South who survives incredible abuse and bigotry. After Celie's abusive father marries ...more
- A 1977 miniseries based on Alex Haley's book tells the story of African teen Kunta Kinte, brought to America to be enslaved, and the generations of his family.
- In Virginia, high school football is a way of life, an institution revered, each game celebrated more lavishly than Christmas, each playoff distinguished more grandly than any national holiday. And ...more
- In this fact-based film, a New Jersey superintendent, Dr. Frank Napier (Robert Guillaume), watches helplessly as East Side High becomes the lowest-ranked school in the state. With nowhere else to ...more
- In 1960s Mississippi, Southern society girl Skeeter (Emma Stone) returns from college with dreams of being a writer. She turns her small town on its ear by choosing to interview the Black women who ...more
- One Night in Miami is a 2020 American drama film directed by Regina King. Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and Same Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) meet one ...more
- Though he once spent time in San Quentin, 22-year-old black man Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is now trying hard to live a clean life and support his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) and young daughter ...more
- Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi, based on the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly. The story of a team of female African-American ...more
- After leaving the South as a young man and finding employment at an elite hotel in Washington, D.C., Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he is hired as a butler at ...more
- The touching story of a sailor (Derek Luke) who, prone to violent outbursts, is sent to a naval psychiatrist (Denzel Washington) for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually ...more
- This film presents the real-life tale of young Ruby Bridges (Chaz Monet), one of the first African-American children to attend an integrated school in the Deep South. At only age 6, Ruby is selected ...more
- 42 is a 2013 American biographical sports film directed by Brian Helgeland. The powerful story of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), the legendary baseball player who broke Major League Baseball’s ...more
- In the years before the Civil War, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. Subjected to the cruelty of one ...more
- Fences is 2016 American drama film written by August Wilson and directed by Denzel Washington in his directorial debut, based on his play of the same name. Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, a former Negro ...more
- James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) was born in extreme poverty in 1933 South Carolina and survived abandonment, abuse and jail to become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He ...more
- Mudbound is a 2017 period drama directed by Dee Rees, with a script written by Virgil Williams based on the novel Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. A family who have relocated to rural Mississippi find ...more
- When nurse Eunice Evers (Alfre Woodard) is chosen to facilitate a program intended to curb syphilis rates among African Americans in rural Alabama, she is gratified to be able to serve her community. ...more
- A tribute to the controversial black activist and leader of the struggle for black liberation. He hit bottom during his imprisonment in the '50s, he became a Black Muslim and then a leader in the ...more
- Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a Hutu, manages the Hôtel des Mille Collines and lives a happy life with his Tutsi wife (Sophie Okonedo) and their three children. But when Hutu military forces ...more
- Following the Battle of Antietam, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is offered command of the United States' first all-African-American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. ...more
- Born into poverty, Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) overcomes many obstacles to get into Syracuse University's football program. Under the guidance of Coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid), Davis becomes ...more
- After a successful baseball career in college and as a coach in the military, Jackie Robinson (playing himself) attracts the attention of Major League Baseball's Branch Rickey (Minor Watson). Rickey ...more
- Based on the life of the legendary soul singer, Tina Turner (Angela Bassett) -- born Anna Mae Bullock -- discovers her love of singing in her Tennessee church choir. She moves to St. Louis to pursue ...more